umbilicus and sweetness

Think of the relationships between the narrator of “Umbilicus” and the white men who try to “help” him. Now, think about the conflicted feelings of Morrison’s character Sweetness about Lula Ann, and think about Lula Ann’s perception of how her mother feels about her. If you have read Baldwin’s “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone,” think about the relationship between Leo, Caleb, and the white police officers.

I suggest to you that the problems of race and misplaced or betrayed trust are central to each of these deeply problematic or conflictual/conflicted relationships. Think about exactly what the frustrated trust may be in each one.

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umbilicus and sweetness
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Then, . . .

A.) Formulate a claim about the nature of the betrayed or misplaced trust in the two (or three) texts and how it relates to race. This should be a claim that is broad enough to accommodate the two (or three) instances of betrayed or conflicted trust. This is your thesis statement.

B.) Now, develop your argument to support your claim. Identify and characterize the nature of the betrayed trust in each story. (“To characterize” means “to describe.”) Offer at least one specific example of betrayed trust in each story and analyze why trust has been betrayed. Who is/are the betrayer(s), and who is betrayed?

C.) Write a brief conclusion in which you restate your claim/thesis and summarize the case you have made in its support.

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